TVS 50 is in the death bed. Anytime the plug can be pulled from the life support system which supports this brand. The brand which was once the favorite two wheeler of common man is at the end of its lifecycle.
TVS 50 has a special place in the automobile history of India. This brand was the first twin seater moped in India.Moped is the combination of Motor + pedal ( nobrainer isn't it).The history dates back to the time of first world war and later a resurgence during the great depression.
Mopeds were pioneered in India by Kinetic with its single seater Luna. But TVS 50 made the category popular. This simple machine which was a category between cycle and scooter was a affordable transportation mode for a middle class person who couldn't afford a scooter.
The success of this product can be attributable to two things : price and utility. At a low price one could have something better than a cycle and also which was simple to handle and no hassles. The brand became favorite for small traders and at one point of time an entry level category for teenagers.
The Mopeds are now facing extinction because of the rise of certain categories within the two wheeler segments . The emergence of scooterette took away lot of consumers who was in the TG of mopeds.Along with that the product also had its inherent problems. The most nagging one being underpowered. The pedal starting also distanced ladies from considering this product. Although the product offered good mileage, the emergence of scooterette virtually took the consumers away from mopeds.
TVS has tried to keep the brand afloat in the changing market. It introduced a 72cc moped :TVS XL Super to make the moped powerful. Over its lifecycle the brand changed from TVS 50 to TVS Champ to TVS Superchamp to TVS XL Super and TVS XL Super heavy. The pedalling gave way to kick starting .So looking at the product changes, the company has done all the right things. Even in 2001, the brand had 66% market share. But the question is about the shrinking market for mopeds. In 2003 the company officials announced that the brand is slowly being phased out.
TVS was once a brand that reversed the fortune of TVS motors. It was a cash cow for the company and kept afloat the company during trying times.Now this category itself is becoming irrelevant or is it? One significant factor to look is that the design was never touched upon regarding the mopeds. The look remained the same.Globally mopeds are a preferred product category for short distance commuters. Looking at the electric bikes that are being promoted now in India, the performance is comparable with mopeds. So are curtains being pulled a little too early? Theoretically there is a gap existing in the market between cycles and scooterettes:Where TVS Scooty remains the leader. Price wise also there is a scope for a product. But mopeds in the current design and image may not bring in customers especially urban customers. A redesigned funky and attractive two wheeler in the price range of mopeds still holds some market. In western markets there are 50cc mobikes that teens use. No for an urban teenager, there are less options or settle for a ladies scooterette.
Will it take a Honda to reinvent this category.....